Child flu vaccinations have dramatically lowered the number of GP consultations for flu-like illness, results from a pilot study reveal.
Pilot areas saw 17.7 cases of influenza like illness out of 100,000 patients over the 2013/14 season, compared to 64.5 out of 100,000 in the areas continuing as normal.
The programme, which operated in Bury, Cumbria, Gateshead, Leicester City, East Leicestershire and Rutland, and the London Boroughs of Havering and Newham and South East Essex, had a 52.5% uptake in the target group of four to 11 year-olds.
The pilot study has been tipped to continue, with additional pilots for children in years seven and eight of secondary school (aged 11-12) in some areas.
Study author and Public Health England flu expert Dr Richard Pebody said the results are “encouraging” with positive uptake levels.
He said: “Despite this season being of relatively low intensity, these early findings already suggest a likely impact of vaccinating school-age children on levels of circulating flu, which is encouraging for the on-going roll-out.
“It will be important we continue this on-going close monitoring of the programme, but the high uptake levels achieved in most pilot areas using school-based delivery demonstrate the feasibility of achieving high coverage levels.”
The study was published in the journal Eurosurveillance.